YOUTHMAN OPINION AND TAKE (KENYAN ELECTIONS)
By Mwas Mahugu
[The views expressed here are those of the author]
It has been show time for politicians last year and early this year, for Kenya to decide who was to lead Kenya for the next five years. Not only to lead but also to show the world what our society is made of, our leaders reflect the kind of people the Kenyan society is.
Who ever came up with the phrase “better the devil you know than the angel you don’t” know must have made a terrible mistake, if it was to be taken with Kenyan society in mind.
For the former he or she can be devil reincarnation with a lot of fury, while the angel, far from being a dangerous situation, might turn out to be real, with all associated angelic qualities; good economy, social system and governance, but the devil has nothing new. You know all in and out and that it’s the same fats cats running the state, the forest is still the same and it’s the same monkey jumping from one tree to another; there are those people who have been running the state since independence. Nevertheless we have no choice, only to choose the lesser evil among our pre-formatted leaders.
Anyone who thinks we did not need a new government and new crop of leaders, is a beneficiary of impunity and has survived and perfected the system of corruption. Our state can be compared to a big ship, which had grown infected with the one party system. There was a divide between the civil servant and the people, but more importantly the haves and have nots. A new President is ushered in but before the real changes trickle down to common mwananchi, five years are over and it is time for general elections again. Heaven-sent promises become order of the day, youth employment, better health services, education, the list goes on and on.
President Mwai Kibaki has made a tremendous achievement, improving the infrastructure, communication, health and education. The economy has been advancing at unprecedented rate but still, in his tenure corruption scandals had become part of the Kenyan entertainment scene, like a series which continues everyday: People watching the evening news, Kenyans are still not able fully utilize agricultural output, unscrupulous traders grew rich from selling seeds packed from a backstreet under the watchful eyes the system, a big percentage of cereals consumed in Nairobi come from other East African states, still the movements of the goods among the East African states has been a menace, this is due to unfavorable trade barriers, custom duties and bureaucracy.
The strong and energetic youth struggle so much to get into the job market, reason being, the universities are churning new graduates every year but only a small fraction are absorbed into the job market. The much publicized youth fund made the top guns millionaires. The process was tedious, an organized group of ten youths were given 50,000. But this were mere formalities, so the same institutional corruption took shape with civil servants forming briefcase youth organizations to siphon the money. The big joke was when thousands were recruited and employed under the Ministry of Youth to clean the rivers and slash grass all over Nairobi, which they did in large numbers, I witnessed this with my own eyes. The organizers ran away with the loot in broad daylight. The youth demonstrated –they littered the streets of Kayole in 2009, with the soil they had loaded in the Lorries. Newspapers later published how the youth fund had been misused.
I visited Ministry of Industrialization situated inside Posta next to Nyayo house, with a unique project; to see if there was a way my business idea could be incubated to grow and employ many youths. I had borrowed a leaf from the China government with their cottage industries, after discussion I told the Official to stop crap and politics and tell me the real situation. The man told me yes, they have millions in the fund available but to get it out was a real headache and every year moneys go back to treasury, and sometimes it is transferred to other Ministries; my point is how do we industrialize the country when this type of a ministry is a paper tiger?
The defeated man admitted how he was among the six Kenyans who went to study about intellectual property in Israel, but it has taken years to reach where he is, but more importantly he is just an image. He tows the line of his masters, and the prevailing situation works for dark forces. He finally told me this country has its owners. This climate prevails in all major government organizations. If you are a normal citizen you have to beg to be served or give a bribe. So my point is it does not matter who takes the presidency, since the President becomes the captain of a leaking ship, but the cabinet around the President always assures the big gun all is fine and running well until media luckily uncovers one of the big corruption scandals, among thousands, that has been escaping the public eye.
We needed a new Government under a new party, T.N.A. managed to offer their followers hope, with their slogan “I believe” and “tunaweza” slogan, encouraging teamwork. The digital team has formed the Government with the Supreme Court, nullifying the results, and declared Uhuru Kenyatta as the fourth President of Democratic Republic of Kenya. I was involved in The T.N.A. party from the nominations to elections in Embakasi, the poorest of the poor bought into the idea of “we believe we can” and they took all the promises the politicians gave as with Gospel truth acceptance. The party nominations were marred with irregularities. I was introduced to this World of propagandas and I learnt so much. The winners of the party nominations were not the best leaders, they were the smartest in this dirty games of politics. Forget the leaders with good policies; it is the best storytellers who stole the shows. They promised heaven, like biblical Moses- Manna from heaven was in high supply, dishing handouts like they were pulling them from a vending machine and when the tap runs dry they sprinted to the infamous Riveroad to print fake cash. I once received a cheque, I banked it at Equity and I wanted to get half of the amount before the three days maturity, since I needed cash badly. This was my branch I had done this type of transaction before.
After pleading my case and humbling myself like an angel the bank manager came and told me “we cannot process the transactions, politicians are issuing banking cheques and your drawer is not our regular customer.” I was defeated and I left cursing the so-called politicians.
How will the Jubilee Coalition integrate the five millions plus who voted for CORD, the people in the streets to the ghettoes around the country who went on rampage burning and looting, after their party lost? They experienced the strong and long hand of the government, which is sometimes brutal and ruthless in name of keeping peace. What will happen if Jubilee Coalition fails to honor the promises they made? And these masses who voted for both parties join forces? Already power and food prices are escalating, how many rivers will common citizens cross before they reach Canaan, the land of milk and honey? Kenyans have been yearning for a messiah, someone to give them hope and lead them to prosperity. If they realize their chosen leaders are not honest there will be a revolt. The “us” and “them” attitude, which comes of treating citizens as consumers, might arise.
Internet age is here, citizen journalism through the blogs and social media feed us with news even before a newspaper editor sits on his computer to edit the stories. A major transformation is taking place right now in our society. None is more subtle, yet explosive, I think, than this first the mega shift from institution journalism to citizen journalism. Innovations in communications and computer technology are accelerating the pace of change by collapsing the information float. We are moving from centralization to decentralization, we don’t need strong leaders but it is our democratic system that can create a strong and viable society. Strong leadership is an anathema of democracy. The cyberspace which is a general medium invites participation. It is the set of orientation points by which we find our way around a bewildering amount of data, it brings “virtual reality,” it makes interaction of one or several subjects who are spatially dispersed to “come together” share information and sometimes make love to each other though they are separated by thousands of kilometers in real space.
There has been a silent revolution of the mind of Kenyan youth through music of the likes of ukooflanimaumau and hip hop emcees. This is not the generation to deceive and play politics. They have a discerning eye and access to information, and they will crucify politicians in broad daylight. The music and other forms of art are double edged sword, sound of violence and peace at the same time; African peace militants, from the images, the instruments, to the poetry.
Fact is: in the majority of African states, politicians have been giving people their minds and not their hearts, and by entering Parliament they end up chasing their dreams, and run our institutions like country clubs. Gone are [those] days, the information age is here. Leaders deliver, or run for dear life.
The future is not for parties “playing politics” but for the measure conceived in the largest spirit, pushed by parties whose leaders are statesmen not demagogues, who love not their offices but their duty and their opportunity for service. We are witnessing a renaissance of public spirit, a reawakening of sober public opinion and a revival of the power of the people. Politicians must stop running office like their country clubs; they should put aside their capitalist ideas and ideology. To concentrate towards achieving their people’s goals, not their own dreams and fantasies. Last but not least, I wish to congratulate His Excellency President Uhuru Kenyatta and his deputy President His Excellency William Ruto.
Written by Mwas Mahugu
9th march 2013
Time 3.12 AM